Risk-Takers or Undertakers

Michael Simpson states: “I believe that Christ being less attracitve…is a by-product of a diluted Christianity.”

Mike Bickle says: “God is going to change the understanding and expression of Christianity in one generation.”

I believe that in the next few years we will first see that the way people- especially young people – live out their Christian faith is going to change dramatically and drastically. Then, as a result, people looking at the Church from the outside will perceive a different Christianity than what anyone sees right now. This will lead them to see a different Jesus – the real, biblical Christ.

I believe we are seeing a new generation arise who, after discipling, training and equipping, will rise up and redefine “normal” when it comes to being a believer. In the midst of world-wide political, economical, and ecological crisis they will rise up and declare that Jesus is the “way, the truth and the life.”

I believe that in the midst of a world “gone mad” and everything unraveling and falling apart – morals, ethics, standards, tolerance, understanding, meaning, purpose, respect, dignity and hope – God is raising up a generation of young people ages 18 to 28 who will no longer accept Christianity as they find it and will literally break out of ‘the box’ or, more accurately simply break the box and do things differently.

This generation will take the Word of God (Bible) and the Word of the Lord (prophecy) seriously and will obediently “go into all the world.” They will recognize that the harvest is ready but the laborers are few and they will sign up and give their lives to the cause. These young people will be risk-takers. Otherwise, the Church will need an undertaker.

I believe this younger generation will immediately realize that you can’t fight the battles over lost souls from the view of the pews. They will come to recognize that they need to move out into the enemy’s camp. They will understand that a confined church loses validity (relevance and meaning); that a confined church is an expiring church instead of an explosive church as it should be.

I believe that they will go beyond any and all of their personal limitations and the self-imposed limitations of the older generation and the Church and will become “another man” as King Saul was when he came under the influence of the prophetic anointing when he met the school of prophets. They will become supernatural; more than natural; above the ordinary; able to do more than expected.

I believe that this new generation of believers will not allow themselves to stay in their comfort zones. Thy will recognize and even know instinctively that the anointing comes to people who are willng to step out of their comfort zone. The fruit is found at the end of the limbs and cannot be picked and harvested if you are still hugging the truck of the tree and not taking any risks.

I believe that although this will be a major move of God’s Spirit in one specific generation – believers of any age can enter into this new move – this fresh wind – of the Spirit. All they need is a willing heart and the willingness to get off their sanctified backsides and move out into the battlefield where lost souls are won. As they do so they will also find themselves in the center of God’s will.

I’ll meet you there – in the center of God’s will. In spite of my chronological age I am choosing to be part of this generation as it rises up to meet God’s challenge and the cal lthat is upon it.

Making History or Becoming History

I am old enough that I recognize the fact that some could view me as “history.” I enjoy the music of the mid-50’s and what is now appropriately called “the oldies” – the music of the 1960’s that transformed a generation – mine. I am part of the “Age of Aquarius” (remember that song?) and thus history, over the hill, yesterday’s news.

Reading the magazines that come in to my office about Church, Church planting, Church growth … so much of it is about what young men and women in the 30’s are doing and the impact they are having in various locations around North America. Seldom read of older leaders and what they are doing – afterall, we were yesterday’s news. We should be retired and enjoying the fruits of our pensions.

Well I woke up with this phrase running around in my spirit the other morning… “Making history or becoming history.” And I felt the Lord saying “Your choice son – you can be either yesterday’s news and tomorrow’s history or you can make history by stepping out and following me into new areas of ministry where you will need to trust Me as never before. New things done in new ways in new places where the Gospel has never been heard. A challenge for even the young but I offer it to you as a seasoned worker in the Kingdom. Your choice and should you say “yes” it will never be easy and will require new skills and a deeper trust of Me for you have never been this way before.”

The sense I had was that the Lord was looking for an answer immediately. As I have always been willing to follow Him since the day I met Him, regardless of what it cost or where it led me, I said “yes” to His offer. I have, in the two days since, begun to get some idea of what it is He is asking me to become involved in. It’s sitting in my spirit and I still can’t put words to it but it is there and He has begun to speak to me about whatever it is. My head will come to know in time – know what it is not necessarily understand it all. But then that is not a concern because I don’t have the need to understand – just to know so that I can cooperate and follow closely.

I guess, at least in God’s eyes, I’m not history – and He wants me to continue making history. Just when I was honestly thinking of cutting back on what I am involved in and going into semi-retirement….

Weepers and Reapers

The Church has a reason for existing and taking up space on this planet. It’s purpose and thus task is to “seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10).

There are two things believers can do right now but will not be able to do when they arrive in Heaven. Sin and evangelize. Guess which one God wants individual Christians to do while still here on Earth!

In spite of these two FACTS churches are dying at a tremendous rate throughout North America. Every month hundreds of churches are closing their doors permanently. What often began with a bang and in the fires of revival – after living in the ashes for years – dies without a wimper and no one even notices or cares.

Erwin McManus states, “The real tragedy is not that churches are dying but that churches have lost their reason to live!”

We need to dial back into our cause again. We need to grasp that the Church was founded by Jesus and that He is still the Head of the Church. And, the task we have been called to do – The Great Commission – is still the same today as it was when He first spoke it just before ascending into Heaven (Matthew 28:18-20).

And never doubt that darkness wants to keep us contained in the land of irrelevancy where we are busy doing what doesn’t work, where it doesn’t matter anyway.

We need to see a shift take place soon. We have to make a shift from just accomodating weekly Christian programs to empowering an army of believers to take their place and harvest in mainstream society. The chief goal of this hour must be to produce Christians who are not living for the next thrill, but are looking to take the next piece of enemy territory!

We need believers who are willing to be weepers and reapers. To have such a heavy burden for the lost that they will weep before the throne of grace on behalf of lost souls going to hell. And, will then stand tall and move into the spiritual darkness and share “the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16) and thus reap the harvest. These are the men and women, young and old that Jesus spoke about when He stated that the harvest is ripe and ready but that the laborers were few (Matthew 9:37). Time to be weepers and reapers.

Time to grab hold of our reason for living once again!

The Facts of Life for the 21st-Century

It is interesting to listen to what people talk about when they are out with friends having a coffee together at the local coffee shop. I was sitting yesterday for several hours in a coffee shop – a planned wait so I had my laptop and internet connecting system in place so I could be working. However, people were coming and going all around me and I managed to hear tidbits of various conversations. Here were some of my thoughts while I sat there and worked and listened…

1> The rules have changed
People are making up their own rules when it comes to family life, relationships at work, moral and ethical issues, and what they believe about God, the Lord Jesus and the local church. It has become “every man doing what is right in their own eyes” and believing whatever they are comfortable with. There are no “standards” any longer and so anything and everything goes. “Tolerance” is the key word and “entertainment” is a major goal. “Holidays” are something people see as a right and so demand to have. “Loyalty” and “commitment” are things of the past as now it is every person for themselves and you better not get in their way.

2> Life is faster
Not always better but obviously life is moving faster for most people. For me personally I something think I am simply moving slower due to age and so it only appears that life is moving at a faster clip … But, in general, life is being lived in the fast lane and people are working longer hours and often more than one job to enable their chosen lifestyle. It seems as if people are trying to squeeze more in to the time they have available and so are living at breakneck speed. However, this has, in my opinion, led to a shallow life lived on the surface without much meaningful interaction between people and little of any value happening in individuals. Life is remaining unexamined and so the quality goes down faster than the quantity of life being squeezed into the given time space increases.

3> Change is accelerating
This is a no brainer. The fact that I was sitting in a coffee shop working on a laptop no bigger than a good size book and connected to the internet when not in a Wi-Fi area speaks volumes regarding the rapid rate of change. I was having coffee later in the day with one of my daughters – a different coffee shop – and we were talking about the speed of change and how much her children now take for granted things that were not even dreamed of 30 years ago… And, as I think about the work that I do for the Lord and the way it is now being done compared to 25 years ago… change is accelerating and amazing. And, it is not always adding to the quality of life we are experiencing.

4> Expectations are higher
More is expected of us than ever before. Companies are expecting more of their employees as they downsize. People are expecting more and better from places they shop and churches they attend. People, in general, want to give less (commitment, loyalty, involvement, money) but are demanding more for their less. People expect more from others than they are willing to give themselves. They live with a double standard in many areas of their life and daily behaviors. This is putting extreme pressure on many who are in the service industry, politics and various levels of government, company owners and those in full-time ministry.

5> The culture is in moral decay
This one is obvious. Just watch television for an hour. Life seems to have little value. People are being shot nightly on the streets of the cities. Drug dealers control many areas of the inner cities and many districts of some nations. Movies are going down the toilet as are many of the stars – Mel Gibson being a current example. Most movies are not worth the time it takes to watch them. Listen to what the teenagers are talking about at their local hangout. Take note of how many of the younger generation are now living an openly gay lifestyle.

In the midst of these signs that we are in trouble I would say that Christians and Christian leaders need to realize a number of things…

1> You are a limited resource
And as a limited resource recognize that you cannot do everything and meet every need that is out there crying for attention. As a limited resource you need to know what it is that the Lord is calling you to do, how He wants you to do it, and where, and then focus on that and not spread yourself too thin. You need time to recharge and this may mean retreating from the fast lane and finding solitude and silence on a regular basis so that when you re-enter the regular flow of daily traffic you are ready for whatever opportunities come your way. But, you are not God’s answer to everyone’s problems or issues – Jesus is!

2> Leadership is a draining experience
In the 21st century Christian leadership is more dreaining than ever before. This is partly because of the decaying nature of the society in which we live, partly the result of the changing nature of the challenges that leaders are faced with today, and partly due to the higher expectations placed on those who dare to be a leader in this “demand more and give less” culture. What use to work when it came to leading people and building churches no longer works. Today we are not sure what works anymore when it comes to the changing face of the Christian sub-culture. People are not getting saved and so the size of the organizations are slowly shrinking and yet we are expected to o more even when we have less to work with. Very draining at the best of times.

3> More is not the answer
We live in a society where we assume that more is better. We want more money, more credit, more entertainment, more holidays, more food, more vehicles, more “home” (so thus bigger and better places to live)… And for Christian leaders we need to be careful not to get caught up in this ‘more’ mentality or “begger is better” approach to life. More prayer, more programs, more services, more people, more outreach, more… More is not the answer. Jesus is! And often He would have us live with less, do less, be involved in fewer things, and accumulate less. “Less is better” is soon to be the directing influence for believers.

4> There is hope
And finally there is hope. Jesus is our hope. If we live without hope in the future we live without power in the present. So, as Christian leaders we need to maintain a high level of hope. People can change when they know Jesus. The Church will reach the world with the Gospel because Jesus said we would. He is building His Church and knows what He is doing and se we can have hope because “all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and His purposes.”

So I am having this bottle of Diet Pepsi at the coffee shop yesterday as I waited and, as a people watcher, I enjoyed my time thinking, watching, observing and listening (and yes – working as well). Interesting to see how others spend their mornings… And, I walked away thankful that I am a believer in the resurrected Jesus and thus can see life differently than others and live life with eternity in view and thus live with a purpose that goes beyond daily life. I walked away with an added burden and resolve for those who live without the Lord and so live without hope and with little to look forward to except another day tomorrow – maybe!

What They See Should Be Who You Are

As believers in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are called to bear witness to Him in thought, word and deed. Our lifestyle – the way we live, what we purchase with our money, how we invest (or waste) our time, who we hang around with, what we do for entertainment – should all speak of our loyalty to Jesus Christ and the fact that we are a follower or disciple of His. We are to be living testimonies of His grace and His goodness. And, our words, our attitude toward others and our actions should be telling others the night-and-day difference that Jesus has made (and is making) in our lives (1 Peter 2:9 The Message).

There are some basic core beliefs of the Christian faith. This summer I have been preaching weekly on “The Basics” (these sermons are posted on-line and are free to listen to. As well, the written text is also available for download). The list of basic beliefs keeps growing so the series will not end when the summer weather does. But, it has been fun to revisit some of the basic beliefs and to share them in a simple way so that they are understood and can be applied instantly. I have discovered that many Christians do not know what it is they are suppose to believe nor how to apply the things they do believe to their lifestyle. These basic beliefs are suppose to be foundational to our lives. But they can’t be if we don’t know them – really know them deep in our hearts as well as understand them mentally. Afterall, it is upon these foundational, basic truths that we are to build and consciously design a lifestyle that speaks to and reveals our beliefs and the Savior we follow.

From these core basic beliefs we then determine our personal core values – what it is that we, as an individual follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, hold to be foundational to our personal life. What is it that we are doing with the core basic beliefs of the faith? How are we applying them to our own personal lives? They have to be more than a philosophy of life. They have to be more than something held at arms length that we pay lip service to. They have to be more than a comfortable thing to trust when we are approaching the end of our lives (eternal fire insurance). What we believe as Christians must help to determine and shape the way we are going to live our lives and what we are hoping to accomplish with our short time on Earth.

Most believers that I relate to could not tell you their ‘core values’ or the building blocks upon which they are building their lives. They have not internalized the basic beliefs of the faith. Some – dare I say most – could not even tell you the basic core beliefs of the faith they claim to follow. I don’t blame the followers. I think it is the direct result of too much pop theology from the pulpit mixed with self-help psychology. The Church is in sad shape.

When a believer knows the basic beliefs of the faith and have allowed them to form the foundation of their daily life – creating their own personal core values based upon what the Bible-believer knows to be truth – their core values then help them to form life principles. A life principle is the actual way that they are going to live their lives which of course then determines what others see and hear.

A personal example of a “life principle” that I live by is what I call “My LAF Principle”. This means that one of the guiding life principles of my daily life is that I “Love,” “Accept,” and “Forgive” people all of the time. I try to express love towards everyone – the love of God that I have personally experienced. I love them by the way I act, talk, and respond. I accept them just as they are. I do not judge them. I do not form a preconceived idea of how they are going to react or respond. I don’t judge how they look or dress. I simply accept them as Jesus would (unconditionally). Afterall, that is how Jesus accepted me. And, I determine ahead of time and on a daily basis to forgive anyone who hurts me or offends me – a decision and not a feeling. I do this even when they don’t deserve it. Did I deserve to be forgiven? Absolutely not! So, I live my life based on three life principles that determine what others see in me and hear from me. Of course, there are many other life principles by which I form my lifestyle. This is simply one of many.

When all of this comes together – and it must for the believer – then we live a life of integrity. People should be able to look at how we live our lives and what we are doing in our lives and recognize and know that we are believers…. our words, attitudes and actions should line up with our core values which are based on the foundational truths we have determined to personally embrace. Of course, all of this must, for the Christian, be rooted in the essential, non-negotiable, doctrines of the Christian faith. Our basic beliefs.

I Just Witnessed a Drug Deal

I was sitting tonight in my side yard with a fire going in the fire pit. It is totally fenced in and so a private place on a nice night to read and not be disturbed. I’m well into my second cup of coffee and enjoying the book I’m reading on prophetic evangelism when a small car with a bad muffler comes and parks by the fence. I recognize the car as one I saw about ten days ago on a similar evening – same time, same station, same driver (around 35, leather jacket, cell phone, and although he always gets out of the car immediately – he never does cross the street).

So, I looked up – you can see between the fence boards and see what is going on if you want to. It was a repeat of ten days ago. He gets out of the car, calls someone, waits a minute and then greets the young fellow from across the street (his parents own the house and are farmers who have this house as a second home in the city). He comes out as he did the last time. However, because tonight it is still 25 C and thus warm he is without his shirt. He’s a young fella I have spoken to once or twice (not more than two times as I seldom see him or his siblings around the house or yards as they apparently only come to the house when they have to cut the grass, water the yards or hold a loug party on Friday nights). He is not your typical neighborhood teen to early twenties – he has a shaved head with a mohawk streak of hair down the center, a large gage ring in his nose and smaller gage ones in his ears (total maybe 12). He has numerous tattoos over various spots on his neck and face and lower arms – and tonight it became evident that he has others on his chest, back and shoulders, along with other piercings. Tight, low-rise bluejeans and bare feet. His friends are similar (from what I remember of the last party as it spilled over into the street).

He does exactly what he did the last time this car parked in the same spot. He came out of the house, crossed the street, and sat in the car talking… two cigarettes each were smoked as they talked. I don’t pay much attention as I really don’t care and just want some quiet to read. However, this time I believe the Lord has me look up and I see them looking down towards their laps and it is obvious something is passed back and forth. Then the young man reaches into his jeans and takes out some money. It is really obvious what he is doing because he is stretching his body almost straight out in the passenger seat of this relatively small car as his jeans are so tight he is having trouble getting his hand into his pocket to remove the money he is looking for. He settles back in and it dawns on me that I am watching a young man buy drugs. His business – not my concern.

However, I am reading a book on prophetic evangelism – a good book actually. And I hear the Lord say … “this is one young man I want for My Kingdom and I will arrange a time and place for you to talk to him and I have been preparing His heart to hear what you will tell him. I will reveal things to you about his life and his activities that will show him that I sent you and he will respond in a positive way to the Gospel and, in time, during your second conversation with him, he will ask you to pray with him and for him. He will have an encounter with Me after that and on your third visit he will ask you to help him to come to know the Jesus you have talked to him about.” I sat is stunned silence. I am still seriously amazed and a little overwhlemed. In spite of how often I have spoken to people about Jesus by “reading their mail” or moving prophetically I have never had the Lord tell me such detail ahead of my encounters. I normally just stop people I don’t know and go by faith as I open my mouth. This is different.

He got out of the car and as he is doing so and the dealer is just driving away – so he is standing on the sidewalk waiting for the car to pull away from the curb – two clean-cut Mormons in long-sleeve white dress shirts, thin black ties and perfectly pressed black dress pants come walking around the corner and pass right by him as he stands there. They didn’t stop to witness to him or even acknowledge he existed. Maybe they were embarrassed by his looks and dress code or lack thereof.

It is going to be fun watching as the Lord arranges for me to speak to this young man. I witness to lots of young people this age – and even some who are as radical in lifestyle as he is – fellows like this who skateboard where I walk my dog and who frequent the coffee shops and Dairy Queen where I have my appointments with people. I often go early to read for a while – or simply to talk to the youth who are sitting there with their friends. So, I am really looking forward to talking to my neighbor in the near future and watching what God will do. It’s much easier when God arranges the appointments for you.

The Joel Generation

I like what Dave Gibbons stated recently in a magazine article: “I believe this is a Joel 2 generation what will see an incredible unleashing of supernatural power as the Church advances and people are transformed…I see a growing movement of the Holy Spirit that is gentle and deferential, focused not on a persuasive leader yet nonetheless miraculous. The Spirit knows what the Church needs, and I believe we will see…greater demonstrations of healing and prophetic words and gifts of knowledge. This is the generation in which the beauty of God will be unleashed through this new wave of visionaries and dreamers.”Outreach Magazine – January/February 2010 Global Perspective by Dave Gibbons

For a number of years now (probably 20 years) I have heard prophetic words about a Joel Generation. All of them sound similar in detail and outcome. They are often referred to as the Joshua Generation as well because they will “take the land.” There have been, of course, several words over the years about the Benjamin Generation that will be rising up as well. Good words. Solid prophetic indicators from the Lord about what He was and is planning and what is acutally currently beginning now to take place.

For these “generations” to rise up and take their rightful place in the Kingdom and the Church and fulfill the call of God and His plans and purpose for each of them I believe two main things have to happen.

First, those who have received a prophetic indication that they are called to be part of these end time “generations” which have specific tasks to fulfill at certain key stragetic times must step up to the plate. Most are not even in the ball game. Many are living in sin, know it and apparently don’t care. Some are not even active in a local church. They go to special meetings and hear a prophetic word calling them to do something for the Lord or letting them know they are called to be an apostle, prophet, or five-fold evangelist…and they do absolutely nothing about the word. Of course, as a result, nothing happens regarding what was declared – their potential, their possibilities – and things return to normal. I see it happen over and over again, in nation after nation.

These young people need to take some initiative; they need to start reading and researching, coming to understand more about what the Lord is doing today; they need to become involved in an alive church that will encourage their calling and their gifts even if it means leaving the “family church” they now attend. They need to seek out people who will disciple them in the basics of the faith. As well, they need to find older men with the same calling on their lives and ask these seasoned veterans to mentor them. They need to initiate regular contact with these mentors and even pay for the coffee or the meal. Afterall, it is their prophetic word and they need to become active and involved in seeing it come to pass. It is their responsibility. They need to take responsibility for what they have heard and do everything possible to see that word from the Lord come to pass. In other words – get off your butt and become involved and responsible.

Secondly, those who are already in the ministry and moving with the Spirit of God need to make themselves available to mentor those of the younger generation. This is a very time consuming commitment (I currently mentor 6 people meeting with each of them individually twice monthly) and means opening up your life and ministry for others to become closely involved and active with you. Mentoring is more than transferring information – it is a sharing of life and ministry together. That’s a commitment.

Today there are many who declare themselves five-fold ministers who are not mentoring and equipping the next generations. This means they are not fulfilling the call of God on their lives – as all five-fold ministers are called to reproduce themselves and thus be equipping and mentoring others. Again, time for the leaders to open up their lives to the younger generations and get involved. Time to get backside off the office chair. Time to stop making excuses and to stop worrying about your ministry and your reputation and your income and your… It is not about you and your comfort. It is about serving faithfully and fully.

So, it is good to hear these prophetic words about the Joel (Benjamin, Joshua) generation. But much is being demanded of this generation and, in general, they are falling short of their resposibilities in these things. And, much is being asked of the older generation who think (and often rightly so) that they should be slowing down and doing less as they get older. However, as the devil took out the 35 to 50 generation back a decade ago it has fallen on the shoulders of the older workhorses to stay in the harness and continue to equip and mentor those who are willing to become involved.

Some Thoughts On a Sunny Saturday Morning

It is really early on a Saturday morning here in Canada. The sun is streaming into my office as it rose around 4:30 this morning and it was a georgeous sunrise. However, all over the province (district) I live in there have been a series of natural “disasters” in the past few weeks. Flooding, tornados, hail covering one city making it look like Christmas in July, very strong and destructive winds. In the east where I will be at the end of August – earthquakes. I grew up there and in my twenty-five years there never heard of an earthquake. Yesterday they had their second round of some fairly serious shaking. The Philippines have had earthquakes, China has had severe flooding, the United States has had very newsworthy weather all spring and summer. Europe has also had its share of flooding and destructive storms. Of course, famines still dominate the news and there are too many wars raging in many places around the world – too many to keep track of them all even if I wanted to.

That’s the natural world – and the news is just as frightening in the Church world. We have believers in many nations either being arrested and jailed or, at the least, meeting secretly so as not to be noticed by governments that are not in favor of what they know to be truth and the results that would happen if that truth continued to spread to more people. I work in several nations where the real Church of Jesus Christ is not encouraged (I am trying to say things nicely) and so simply works behind the scenes quietly being leaven in their world. Some have been and are being arrested and persecuted; many have died for their faith.

Apparently, according to Jesus, there will be a time when believers will be “hated” all over the world because we follow the King of kings and are living by a different standard than the majority of the population of planet Earth. False prophets will rise up (the Bible also speaks of false teachers and false apostles) deceiving many who will follow their revelations and teachings. It will become so bad that the situation will help to separate the wheat from the tares as many true believers in the Church will walk totally away from their first love (Jesus) as their love (agape – God’s love in the believer) grows cold.This will follow a period of time when sin increases both in the world and in the lives of these “growing cold” believers and when many true believers who maintain a firm faith in Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life – the resurrected Son of the Living God – will face opposition and persecution and even death. It will not be an easy time for believers but it will be a powerful time because, as a result, the Gospel will be heard in every nation (people group) in the world and this will usher in “the end.”

Jesus declared this was to happen“Don’t let anyone mislead you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will lead many astray. And wars will break out near and far, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won’t follow immediately. The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will lead many people astray. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come.” (Matthew 24:4-14)

I am encouraged by everything that I am hearing on the news and everything I see happening in the world. It is exciting to see the actual fulfillment of Jesus’ words to His early followers. I even look forward to the ever increasing persecution of believers in various nations around the world including this nation that I live in. You can already see the signs of the changing seasons for the true Church in Canada. And, I am hopeful that all of this will wake the complacent and apathetic believers into taking some action towards seeing the Gospel spread around the world. Jesus said that “all nations will hear it” and I really hope that the true believers in my nation and in the churches that I am honored to minister in regularly will rise to the challenge and not be among those who let their “love grow cold.” The choices are clear and it is up to each and every believer to decide for themselves which road they will take. The easy, complacent road of sin and compromise to stay safe or the hard and committed road of being a soul-winner so that others can come to know the good news that Jesus saves.

This morning I received an email from a young married man in Ukraine – a man I know very well and with whom I have spent much time – who wrote that he is considering starting a new church in his city that will reach those who do not know the Lord and are thus living in sin and, if they die in their sin, will go to hell for eternity. We had been corresponding regarding the increase in HIV/Aids cases in his nation (following the stories and statistics out of Vienna where the world Aids conference has just ended). His nation, along with Russia, lead the way in new cases and these men and women, for the most part, are not being reached by the regular Church. I too have been mulling over the idea – no, it is more a feeling in my spirit – of starting a church for those who have no Christian consciousness who are between the ages of 18 and 28 … regular Christians and backslidden or lukewarm believers not welcome. Pure pagans only need apply. It is time for the world to hear the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation and we are not ashamed of the good news of my Lord and Savior. It is time to fulfill the mandate of the Church to seek and save the lost.

Want to Last as a Believer?

Whether you are a follower or a leader – as a Christian you need to be consider three things if you want to continue to grow and mature as a believer and reach your full potential in the Lord. Three things to consider if you want to have an impact upon your world.

These are really character questions. When I mention character today many are totally unaware of what I am referring to. Apparently it is no longer considered when we are chosing who we will follow, who will govern us and who we relate to. So, due to disuse it is little understood by people in society today.

Character is who we are when no one is looking. It is one of the key foundational blocks of a human life and includes such words as integrity, honesty, loyalty, morality and ethics. By definition it is: the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing. Your reputation is a result of your character.

To help some of the young people I work with understand character we suggest to them that they can determine a person’s character by looking at their family, friends, finances, what they do for fun (entertainment), and the fruit of their lives (achievements and accomplishments), their faith (what and who they believe in) and their faithfulness.

If you want to last as a believer or a leader of believers you need to be a person of character. If you hope to influence those around you in a positive way for the King and His Kingdom then you need to focus on character issues in your life. Often how we live and what we do or don’t do speaks louder than our words. This would be a character issue. So, it is good to know what we believe as Christians and why we believe it. But, just as important is to line our live up with what we claim to believe and tell others we believe. Character!

There are three things you might want to consider to get yourself started down this road towards focusing on and developing your character (who you really are):
1> What are you reading or watching?
2> Who are you surrounding yourself with?
3> What recreational activities are you pursuing?

Honest answers to these three questions and the resulting changes in lifestyle and focus will help you to begin a journey that few today seem to want to or even consider taking. A journey towards becoming more like Jesus.

Earth Will Be Invaded

I read a lot. And I read widely. I enjoy reading because of the benefits. It feeds my need for information. It helps me to grow in my knowledge base. Reading keeps me up-to-date with current culture and the many changes going on in the world today. I am told that at my age it is good for my brain to stay active as it keeps certain diseases from becoming prominate in my life.

I read everything from classics to current fiction Robinson Crusoe to The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini from Kabul, Afghanistan – not to mention detective stories such as The Number One Ladies’ Dectective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith (no, I have never watched the televsion series based on the books). And, I must admit, because of my calling and ministry I read many books on the Bible, apostles and prophets, church planting, winning the lost and evangelism, and communicating (preaching, teaching, connecting). I simply have a book or e-book in my hands as frequently as possible.

But I must admit that much of what I read that comes out of the “Christian” market amazes me. Maybe the word is horrifies – as it is amazing the doctrines, teachings, and theories that are out there passing themselves off as Christian. Even more amazing is that people make these writers bestselling authors by buying their books. Hopefully they are not as quick at buying the teachings. However, these writers create and maintain large ministries often branching into radio and television and spreading their teachings worldwide.

At times it seems that the wilder the teaching – the more far-fetched the concept or the idea being presented the better. The crazier ideas become the more popular ones in Christian circles. And, when you look at the Scriptural backing for the theory or the theology being taught it never holds water. They do not use even one of the acceptable and time-honored methods of understanding Bible passages. (see note #1) They take things out of context, use half a verse, forget about what the original Greek or Hebrew words were and their meaning… the list of totally unnecessary errors being made to come up with these teachings is inexcusable in this day and age. But it seems that most people don’t really care.

But, people buy the teaching because the “minister” is popular and successful and on television or has flowing video on their internet site. And, the stupidity goes on and on spreading around the world. I could name a dozen popular teachers who in days gone by would be labeled heretics because that is what they are. They are “teachers” who are leading people astray and even the very elect are being deceived (to quote the Bible). Of course, this should be expected because we are in the End Times and Paul wrote to Timothy (and us) about this – inspired and directed to do so by the Holy Spirit.

It seems that the stranger the interpretation of Scripture the better and more popular the teaching. So, maybe I should design a teaching based on half a verse from some obscure passage of the Old Testament about the fact that the Earth is about to be invaded. The title of the new series: “Earth will be invaded by Martians who look like televangelists.” I could use the verses about the wheel within the wheel from Ezekiel and back it up with some flying, extra-large grasshoppers from Revelation (spaceships of course) and really weave quite a substantial teaching based on the Bible and skillfully and smoothly taught and promoted worldwide. I would probably have a very large following, a good-sized church, and a very large budget for my worldwide ministry. I mean, that appears to be what it takes in this day and age to draw a crowd. Of course a crowd is not always a church.

It seems that Jesus is no longer enough. It now needs to be “Jesus plus.” Jesus plus an angel, Jesus plus a trip to the third heaven, Jesus plus communication with King David, Jesus plus dreams and visions, Jesus plus inner healing, Jesus plus psychology, Jesus plus a pile of questionable manifestions, Jesus plus a revival, Jesus plus anointed teachings, Jesus plus worship that takes us into His presence. And, the list could go on and on.

If Jesus is truly who He claimed to be – He is enough. We don’t need new revelations, new programs, new gimmics. reaching new levels … just preach the real Jesus as revealed in the Scriptures and the message He came to reveal (the Gospel of salvation) and leave the rest out. Jesus is sufficient. Always has been, still is, and always will be. The real Jesus, as revealed in the pages of the Bible from Genensis to Revelation, is more than enough. Maybe it is simply time to return to our “first love” and become passionate about the Lord Jesus Christ once again. Maybe!

Meanwhile I will keep working on that invasion theory theology….

Note #1: One of the best books on how to read the Bible correctly to receive the most out of it and not fall into this serious trap is: “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. A real classic that has recently been rewritten and published once again.